Vagabond biker pedals through Carson
With all of his belongings packed into a camouflage trailer attached to a matching bicycle, 35-year-old Keith Beard and his dog, Honey, are pedaling their way through the West.
Beard doesn’t know where he is headed, only where he has been. And he knows that where he has been was not the place for him.
So 33 days ago, Beard and his dog left their home in Dinuba, Calif., with no plans in mind for a destination.
His new home is the bike and trailer he now travels in. Beard, who was in the U.S. Army for two years, painted the entire contraption camouflage. The only color exists in the two, small American flags waving in the breeze atop the trailer.
To protect himself from whatever the weather might throw at him, Beard built a small, cardboard canopy to cover his bike.
And in the back of his trailer, all of his belongings are hidden away underneath green blankets.
Attached to the left-hand side of the bike is a grayish, tattered stuffed animal. And besides carrying the necessities, Beard also carries a few plastic action figures, and a small, red, plastic telephone in the basket at the front of the bike.
Beard himself wears camouflage pants to match the bike, because he said, he just doesn’t like bright colors.
With his new home decorated and ready to go, Beard left his home to begin his journey.
Beard, who lived with his father, did not tell anyone where he was going.
“They (my family) got tired of me,” Beard said. ” And I got tired of them.”
His only companionship comes from his dog, a 5-year-old Australian shepherd and border collie mix, who rides behind him in his trailer.
Beard said he doesn’t miss his family, and he doesn’t miss the comforts of home.
“When you get all these different sights, you don’t think about much else,” he said.
For now, Beard isn’t worried about the future. He is happy on the road with Honey. But he said he will know when it is time to stop and make a new home.
“When I get off my bike and look around and say, ‘this is it,'” he said.
Beard began his journey in Dinuba near Fresno, and has passed through California and into Nevada along Highway 395, taking a break in Carson City on Monday.
From Carson City, he thinks he and Honey will head north along Highway 395, perhaps up toward Susanville, and then across toward Highway 101, where they can ride along the coast.
But Beard said that might change, depending on the difficulty of the bike ride. When Beard and Honey first left, he was planning on heading toward the mountains, but after discovering the difficulty of peddling through hills he changed his mind.
For about 28 years, Beard lived in Visalia, Calif., and after that, he lived in Dinuba. His mom died in 1990, and Beard and his father have lived alone since.
He worked in construction, but when his boss retired in February, Beard said, he had nothing else to stay in Dinuba for.
He said he had put leaving off for a long time. And now that he is gone, he doesn’t know if he will ever go back, or even if he will get in contact with his family again.
So far, Beard said he has enjoyed the experience of traveling on his bike.
He carries three wool blankets with him, two of which are sewn together like a sleeping bag. With the temperature drop in Northern Nevada this past weekend, he said it was hard to stay warm at night.
“Sleeping on rocks or sticks is hard,” he said.
It also gets difficult riding up and down hills in his bike. He replaced his old trailer while he was in Gardnerville. The only problem is that the new trailer doesn’t have brakes.
The tires on his bike have also had to be replaced. Riding along the road and through the rocks for so many miles has caused quite a few flat tires. But he has experienced fewer flat tires since replacing the old ones with high pressure tires, he said.
As for money, Beard has just what he brought with him and what some people have given him along the way.
And so despite the ups and downs in the roads and the weather, Beard said he and Honey will keep traveling. This is their life now.